So, you’ve recognized the value that social media and content marketing present for your business. You faithfully promote your Facebook page to your audience through your marketing efforts, e-mail signatures and website. You’ve enlisted employees or executives in your organization to start creating unique content for your blog or website and are seeking out content daily to be shared via your social media channels. It’s now the end of the month and you’re sitting back trying to figure out whether your efforts made any difference at all. You look at reports, but all of the charts, graphs, percentages are simply confusing – you certainly don’t have a PHD in Google Analytics. Sound familiar?
How can you, at the very least, get a vague idea of whether or not your efforts are working?
In a perfect world, all businesses would have dedicated professionals who craft the most effective content and social media marketing strategies. But, in many cases, this isn’t possible, due to budgetary reasons, or otherwise. First and foremost, my advice would be to study and educate yourself for the future. There is no better tool than personal knowledge. That being said, here are a few significant metrics that are easy to understand and measure, that will get you started.
Total Engagement – This includes activities such as “likes” on content you’ve posted, shares, post clicks and comments on Facebook; or favorites, retweets and shares on Twitter. Obviously, the more engagement your content receives, the more interested your audience is in the posted content. Keep in mind that your content is limited in organic reach. The more total engagement you have, the more people will see it. If you’re looking on Facebook, you can see this number within the “Insights” tab of your Facebook page, on the right side listed as “Engagement.” The default time period is for the last week, but you can change this to whatever time period suits you. Look at what gets the best engagement and concentrate your efforts on creating more posts and content along that line.
Increase in Fans/Followers – I should first warn you that this metric can very easily become a vanity metric and lose all relevance. It is a far better strategy for your Facebook page to have less fans, but ones that are truly relevant, than hundreds of fans that have no benefit to you. I cannot believe how many requests for “likes” I get from high school students and people completely unrelated to my industry. It’s all about quality not quantity. Don’t measure your success based on how many fans or followers you have. In addition, there is no way for you to control WHO is following you or liking your Facebook page. In a perfect world, we would all have Facebook pages filled with the exact audience we wish to reach. Reality is that if that high school teenager who lives in Poland wants to like your Facebook page, he can -- and there’s not much you can do about it.
Now that we have that out of the way, you should endeavor to build your fan/follower base through organic methods. Clearly display your social media sites on your website and invite people to “like” your Facebook page, or follow you on Twitter. Include your social media icons in all your marketing and ensure that all employees have links to these places in their e-mail signatures. On Twitter, you can proactively find relevant Twitter accounts and follow them -- chances are they’ll follow you back, as long as they can view your account and see that you are sharing relevant content and don’t just broadcast promotional messages. On Facebook, in a B2B situation, you can spend the time reaching out to other businesses and liking their pages in the hope that they will reciprocate, However, this doesn’t work very well in B2C marketing, as Facebook pages cannot initiate contact with individuals.
Inbound Links – Inbound links are when people refer to your content in content they publish on their website. These links could be contained within content they write and publish. Or, it could be syndicated through their own marketing efforts. The important point is that an inbound link is a signal that another entity found your content valuable enough to either refer to it or share it themselves. And Google knows. This will drive more traffic to your website, position your content with more authority in search engine results and increase the likelihood that your audience will find your content. The more inbound links your content marketing efforts generate, the more successful your efforts are.
Web Traffic – The ultimate goal of any content marketing is to generate more interest in your company. Social media and syndication can be used to increase the probability that people will see your content. If you generate unique, relevant and helpful content, there is absolutely a direct correlation between content and web traffic. Some very detailed analytics are available within Google Analytics. But, if you’re looking for a simple metric to get you started in evaluating your content marketing activities, start by keeping track of your total website visitors.
This primer is simply a starting point in your social media and content marketing efforts and is far from a comprehensive guide to tracking and monitoring the success of your efforts. Take the time to learn more detailed metrics as you go. I hope these five metrics offer a good starting point and serve to provide you with a general idea as to whether any content and social media marketing efforts are succeeding. To your success in 2016 and beyond!